The backup dilemma - the pros and cons of cloud and local devices

By Jason Howells , EMEA Director, MSP Solutions at Barracuda Networks.

  • 7 years ago Posted in
Thanks to the rise of digital business models and, of course, the cybercriminals trying to steal money from organisations large and small, IT security has never been a higher priority than it is today. Businesses owners are constantly being reminded that protecting their data is critical to the continued success of their business and that backup is key to ensure that if the worst should happen, your data can be fully restored.
But with so much noise about the cloud and how it can be used for backup, how can you really be sure that you’re making an informed decision? Here’s a comparison of cloud backup and local storage devices, across five key criteria.
1. Price
Local device: You can purchase a USB or external hard drive at a relatively low price, but it is important to consider that while it’s affordable, it’s not necessarily sustainable. Over time, as your business grows, you’ll need to purchase more devices to support your growing needs. Local devices can also be damaged or fail, so you need to consider the cost of downtime if the necessary backup data isn’t there when you need to do a restore.
Cloud backup: Thanks to the pricing wars being waged by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, the price-per-gigabyte for storage is plummeting, so cloud backup services will very likely cost less than you may think. There will be a regular monthly cost for business-grade cloud backup services, but it does come with plenty of added value, such as regular management and oversight and the security of knowing that if something does happen, your data is safe in the cloud. 
2. Security
Local device: Being able to hold your data in your own hands, quite literally, is something that many businesses value in device backup. Local devices also give you the independence to secure the information yourself. It is however worth considering how secure the devices are, because you could be vulnerable to data loss if the devices were lost or stolen. For example, if your local devices were stolen in a break-in, you would have no way of accessing your data. Not only will you have lost the data, it could end up in the hands of someone else.
Cloud backup: Backing up data offsite to the cloud allows you to use advanced encryption methods to keep it safe from prying eyes. You can also limit who has access to the data. On the flip side, the cloud service provider does not take care of every element of security. For example, it cannot protect you from accidentally deleting or editing important files. Thankfully, many managed service providers are up and running in the cloud and can take care of the entire backup and security process and give you peace of mind that your data is protected.
3. Time and effort
Local device: With device backup, it’s your responsibility to maintain frequent backups, taking the time to connect the drive and wait for the backup to run. Because this process is manual and not automated, people often forget to actually plug in the device, and they fail to maintain an up-to-date backup. Some businesses might prefer this hands-on approach, but for most businesses, it’s just one more thing to do and will most likely be forgotten or neglected.
Cloud backup: Cloud backup allows users to save a significant amount of time because it has a “set-it-up-and-forget-it” design. This approach allows businesses to install the software and schedule regular backups, which run continually in the background. If disaster strikes, you can get your business back up and running fast by restoring the latest backup set from the cloud.
4. Storage limits
Local device: Depending on the amount of data you are looking to back up, you might be able to use a device for ongoing backups. But disk drives are built with maximum capabilities, so you’ll need to buy larger devices as your backup needs grow. It’s worth noting that a consumer-grade USB storage device is not going to be big enough to back up a server, making this approach ineffective for many businesses.
Cloud backup: Business-grade cloud storage services offer businesses limitless scalability, making it easy to add storage as needs change.
5. Support services
Local device: Depending on the type of device you choose, it may or may not require technical know-how to set up and manage. If the device is anything more than a hard drive, you’ll probably want an IT service provider to help manage local device backups properly.
Cloud backup: There are lots of support services available for businesses that want to use cloud backup. You will want to make sure that they have a lot of experience helping customers with the cloud, so that you feel confident that they can help you to get back up and running quickly.
There are certainly cases where having a local backup strategy as part of an overall data protection strategy will be a good decision for your business. However, as your business grows and your IT needs change, you may want to make your local storage component even more “business-ready” by having robust protection both locally and in the cloud. There’s a reason that more and more businesses are assessing the cloud for everything from analytics and accountancy to security and storage. You may find that making an investment in cloud backup could help keep your business running. When faced with a disaster or cyber attack, you don’t want to be left wondering if your data is backed up – and the cloud can assure you that it’s both safe and readily available.
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